Thursday, July 28, 2011
Rapid reaction: Chad Ochocinco
By Mike Rodak
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- In their second trade of the day, the Patriots have again made headlines by acquiring outspoken Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco. The deal, according to ESPN senior NFL writer John Clayton, includes a restructured three-year contract that allows the six-time Pro Bowler to fit under the team's salary cap.
Despite Ochocinco's outlandish personality and propensity for making headlines with his mouth, the veteran wide receiver has a good relationship with Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. The two developed a bond at the Pro Bowl several years ago, and prior to a preseason game two seasons ago, microphones caught the two exchanging some good-natured ribbing.
“It became a relationship beyond a football player and coach,” Ochocinco said last September before the Bengals faced the Patriots. “He became a friend of mine.
“He’s one that I look up to tremendously. One who I’ve never played for but who I share the same respect for as if he was my own head coach.”
Belichick returned the compliment.
“It’s an odd couple,” Belichick said at the time, drawing some laughter from media members. “But in the end, I think we have a lot of things in common.
“I like Chad. I like him as a player, I like him as a person. I like his enthusiasm and the fun he has in football, and how he competes on the football field.”
The 33-year-old Ochocinco was a steady producer for the Bengals since being drafted in 2001. An ankle injury limited him to 14 games last season; he finished the season with 67 receptions for 831 yards and four touchdowns.
While no longer as dangerous a downfield threat as he was earlier in his career, Ochocinco, at 6-foot-1 and 192 pounds, adds some size to a Patriots receiving corps that was lacking it following the departure of Randy Moss in October 2010.
The risk for the Patriots here is minimal. Ochocinco's headlines are considered to be more playful than incendiary. He has been hit with league fines for jocular touchdown celebrations, not legal problems or disciplinary issues.
Adding Ochicinco to Wes Welker and Deion Branch gives Tom Brady three tremendous weapons at the wide receiver spot, and that's before taking into consideration production out of the tight end position. For acquiring Ochocinco, the Patriots only surrendered two late-round draft picks, while negotiating more manageable financial terms with Ochocinco.
For existing Patriots personnel, this trade will have the most impact on third-year receiver Brandon Tate and second-year receiver Taylor Price. Following the departure of Moss last season, Tate was unable to emerge as a consistent receiving threat, a role that will now likely be taken over in part by Ochocinco. Price's chances of adding sought-after playing time have also been reduced.
In what will be an interesting storyline, it remains to be seen which jersey number Ochocinco will wear in New England. Tight end Aaron Hernandez currently has Ocho's namesake jersey number (85). The guess here is that some money will be exchanged and Ochocinco will end up with 85. If he doesn't, though, does that mean he has to change his name?